Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wheeling ad Dealing in Iraq: More to Come

Not the easiest of reads, but this post from Reidar Visser spells out very well the implications of the "deal" done today among the various contenders for political leadership in Iraq . . . .  Bottom line:
  • The US did not get all that it wanted.  Although both the US and Iran wanted Maliki to stay as prime minister, the US wanted the current president, the Kurd leader Jalal Talabani, to step aside for Ayad Allawi so as to fashion a so-called national-unity government that would feature both men at the top.  But as Visser notes, the presidency is largely a ceremonial office (as in the Israeli system) once the prime minister is installed and his government formed.  On a purely constitutional basis, Maliki then could have sidelined Allawi if Allawi had accepted the presidency.  Allawi would seem to be no fool; yet, he did agree to chair a new "national council for strategic policies," which putatively gives empowers him to rein in Maliki.  But that council does not yet exist; it certainly is not authorized under the present constitution.  Bit of a gamble on Allawi's part, I'd say.
  • Although the deal had been made and the top prizes awarded, the various ministerships and cabinet positions have yet to be allocated - and as Visser notes, that could still take several months.  A lot can happen in several months.  And at this point, it's not clear that all the Sunni factions have bought into the new arrangement. 

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